It's down to a race to four wins as the San Francisco Giants face the Kansas City Royals in this year's World Series. It's the Giants 3rd trip in the last 5 years while the Royals haven't been since 1985. I remember that Royals team only because the first ever issue of Sports Illustrated I got in the mail was after they won it all.
The Royals have won 8 straight games this postseason to win the AL flag while the Giants have gone 8-2, only losing once in each round on their way to the NL flag. Both teams were in the Wild Card game this season. Kansas City came back at home against the A's and the Giants shutout the Pirates on the road. This is the second all Wild Card World Series. The Giants lost the first back in 2002 to the Angels but that's ancient history now.
Thanks to the stupid rule about the All-Star game winner getting home-field the Giants will start this series on the road in Kansas City Tuesday night. To be fair though, the Royals had one more win than the Giants so in my perfect world they would have home-field advantage anyway. Speaking of win totals.
If #SFGiants and #Royals make it to World Series will be first time ever (non strike year) both WS teams are below 90 wins.
— Eric Nathanson (@2outhits) October 11, 2014
I discovered that little nugget while researching for the NLCS. It's because of this, that many are calling this a "boring" World Series matchup and the "worst World Series ever". If you're truly a baseball fan, and I'm guessing you are since you're reading this, this is a great matchup for a Fall Classic.
Here's my 5 keys to the Giants bringing another trophy back home to San Francisco.
He's started 4 of the Giants first 10 playoff games and will start Game 1 of this series in Kansas City. It's another opportunity for the Giants to bring their "horse" out to try to steal home-field advantage. Bumgarner has thrown 16.2-straight scoreless innings on the road in this year's playoffs. It was his dominating stuff in Game 1 of the NLCS that shifted the favor towards the Giants.
If he can keep the speedsters off the bases, Bumgarner should have a shot at grabbing the first game in Kansas City. Who knows? If he wins that game the NLCS MVP may give himself another chance to close out a series in the 5th game.
Not for the reasons you're thinking. It's the aforementioned KC running game that he needs to neutralize. We saw what the Royals can do against the A's when given the freedom to run. Posey has to be a shut down force in that area. He can do that too with his arm and his ability to guide Giants pitchers.
Also who am I kidding? Posey's bat needs to come through as well. Although if he hits another 7 singles and the Giants win the series in 5 games, I'd be good with that too.
Middle of the Order
I know I said I'd be OK with Posey hitting singles and the Giants winning, but that's not what they need to have happen. The middle of the lineup has to start cranking it up. As a team the Giants have 17 extra base hits in 10 games. That's not a high powered offense.
Hunter Pence (3 doubles), Brandon Belt (1 HR), and Pablo Sandoval (4 doubles) have gotten some key hits, but also left plenty of runners stranded. If any one of those 3 guys gets it going it should be a big boost to the middle of the lineup. Travis Ishikawa (2 doubles, ONE REALLY BIG HR) is not going to always do the heavy lifting.
It's not an area that I think the Giants need to improve, just an area that could use some attention this series. Fielders need to Make the plays that are given to them. We saw in the last series how important it is just to make the routine play during a high stress situation. The Royals like to run and bunt. There's no need for any infielder to try to make the extra play if an out is there. Take the out and work on the next guy.
According to ESPN Stats & Info the Giants have had the best infield defense in this year's playoffs. Continuing that trend will keep rallys at a minimum and allow pitchers to get out of jams.
He's a key to any playoff series the Giants are playing. Once again it will be up to his magic touch to guide this team home. It doesn't even seem fair to Ned Yost that he has to face Bochy in his first World Series. But those are the breaks and the Giants have one of the best managers of all time.
It's hard to think that Bochy won't continue to press the right buttons. He will have a huge impact on this series with both his in-game moves and lineup choices. I mean it's worked until now, so why question it?
It's "Destiny" vs "Dynasty" or as I like to call it "Young & Dumb" vs "Been there, done that". The Giants are looking like a modern dynasty and it's up to the newcomer Royals to spoil the party. As usual I will be hanging on every pitch but hope that I can stop and smell the roses along the way. After all, what good would a 3rd title be if it's not fun along the way?
Giants will win in 5 games and finally get to celebrate at home.
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